June 11, 2007
Bored of the millennium
Some friends here just published the second edition of Abiy Guday - The Big Issue Ethiopia - a magazine sold by homeless people that I am helping with.
Unfortunately we made a big mistake with the cover. I thought Ethiopia's coming millennium would make a great issue for the magazine and designed a cover with the figure '2000' repeated three times in the colours of the Ethiopian flag.
But it turns out that the average Ethiopian consumer is bored to tears of the Millennium. In fact, they associate the hype around it with the government which, if you remember from the last election, is not all that popular in Addis Ababa. So the homeless vendors are having to try extra hard to persuade people to buy this edition.
It is a shame, because inside, there is an essay by an unnamed Addis University student expressing some of their frustrations with the big event. (See the article below.) We are still working on the magazine website. But if you see somone selling it in the street, please look beyond the cover and buy a copy.
I'm trying, but I just can not get excited by ET 2000
By an AAU student
I am sorry to have to say this, just as everyone is starting to get so excited about the dawn of our new millennium. But I have been trying and trying. And I still can not get excited about it.
I know it is unique and I know it is uniquely Ethiopian. I know that it will, technically, mark the beginning of a new era. And I know that it might pull in a few more tourists, and some more millionaires from the diaspora. Maybe we might even get a few more foreign journalists flying in to write some nice things about us for a change.
But, come on. Is your pulse really racing and your heart really beating faster because 1999 is about to turn into 2000 – seven years after everyone else?
Here are my three main reasons for not getting excited about this coming millennium.
Number one: The whole thing is so abstract. If you look at it coldly, it actually means nothing. The second hand on the clock moved forward a few millimeters and one day turns into another day, one month into another month. Nothing has really moved on. Nothing has changed in a real sense. Why not put equal effort into celebrating the transition from 1998 to 1999? Are we really that excited about the arrival of a nice round number?
Number two: Most of the official millennium events are going to be organised by a committee. It might be an independent committee, not a government committee. But it is still a committee. When was the last time you had a good time at anything organised by a committee? Don't bother checking the program. You know what is coming. Huge, carefully orchestrated events. Long, long speeches. Every civic group will have a chance to have its say. Every government minister will have their five minutes speaking on ETV. And what are the chances that Teddy Afro will sing? Zero.
Number three: What do we really have to celebrate at the moment? Trouble is pushing in at us from every border – what are the millennium parties going to be like in Somali region, in Gambella? And you don't need me to remind you about all those terrible development statistics.
How about if, instead of all this effort to mark the millennium, we focus our minds on something else, something more concrete. How about if we work out ways to develop the economy and become self-sufficient by 2010 - another nice round number? We could hold a huge party and make lots of speeches – ‘Thank you Mr UNICEF, thank you Ms Red Cross. You have helped us for so long. And we are hugely grateful. But we don't need you anymore.' That would get them dancing in the streets.
Technorati Tags: ethiopia, millennium, big issue, homeless
Powered by ScribeFire.
Posted by aheavens at June 11, 2007 8:07 AM